Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in many bodily processes, including immune function and wound healing. Although only small amounts are needed, low levels of zinc can have a significant impact on these processes, as well as cause symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhea, and hair loss. Fortunately, it is relatively easy for omnivores to get the recommended daily amount of zinc from their diet. However, if you suspect that you have a zinc deficiency, it is important to speak to your healthcare provider.
What is Zinc?Zinc is a mineral found in many foods, including meat, seafood, dairy products, nuts, and legumes.
The recommended daily amount of zinc for adult men is 11 mg a day and 8 mg for adult women. It plays an important role in many processes in the body, including immune function and wound healing.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency?Even mildly low levels of zinc can have an impact on immune function. A meta-analysis showed that supplementing with zinc can reduce the duration and severity of the common cold. Low levels of zinc are also known to cause weight loss as it manipulates the levels of ghrelin and leptin (the hormones of satiety) in the body.
Additionally, zinc deficiency can cause hair loss, fertility problems, altered taste, and delayed wound healing.
Diarrhea and Zinc DeficiencyDiarrhea can worsen the deficiency of this crucial mineral because it prevents proper absorption. If you know that you have a deficiency and that you have diarrhea that lasts for several days, you should call a doctor. Zinc is the mineral that helps the intestines fight infections, and without it, the infection could worsen.
Testing for Zinc DeficiencyThere are some tests that professionals can try to diagnose a zinc deficiency, although none are 100% accurate. These tests include plasma tests (taken from your blood plasma), urinalysis tests, and hair tests.
However, you may not need supplements as the recommended daily amount is relatively easy for omnivores to achieve.